How Much Does it Cost to Cater a Wedding for 100 People? (Updated for 2019)

The average cost to cater a reception can vary, depending on the type of catering offered and of course, the cuisine.  Locking down guest count early on therefore is critical to figuring out a firm budget.  Failing that, however, 100 guests is a perfect metric to start with if you want to get an idea of overall costs.


Should your guest list grow, you can easily adapt the budget as well.  Most receptions for 100 people cost around $5,000 to $10,000, with average cost being around $7,000.  Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll be spending on everything – from food to service and staffing, along with alcohol and rentals for a wedding of approximately 100 guests.

 
1. Service

Figure out your service style before anything else, because it makes all the difference to your wallet.  If you’ve got the budget for it, traditional service will bring the glitz and glam.  But setting up a buffet will considerably drive down costs, along with other forward-thinking options like hiring a food truck or setting up service stations.   To inquire directly on how you can save money with one of these methods, click HERE

No matter what, it’s good to have at least one server present to execute the needs of your guests (even if that just means replacing buffet items or collecting empty plates), so be sure to budget approximately $25-$30 for every hour of work you’ll need them.  With a standard four hour minimum, this will be at least $100, but high-end plated service styles necessitates more staff and higher rates.  For a guest count of 100, costs for this style could reach at least $2,000.  For a full breakdown on this topic, click HERE.

2. Food

Directly connected to service style, there’s also a wide gap in estimated prices for the food itself, depending on if you’re going with a timed, coursed meal or an all-out buffet.  But a realistic overall range is $3,000 to $4,000 if you’re including appetizers, sides and desserts, along with a variety of entree choices.


3. Bar

If you want to go all the way with saving costs, the obvious choice is BYOB, but even that option often comes with venue fees (typically $150-$300, and in some cases, hiring a bartender regardless to make sure no one severely over-serves themselves).  A single-day ABC license will generally run at least $100, and naturally, the cost for the alcohol itself (which all depends on how…um…seasoned your guests are at the fine art of drinking it, and how far you’re willing to support this art).


If you’d like to let catering handle this though, expect to shell out anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500 for a beer and wine bar, or up to $2000 for a full bar.  Obviously a big price difference, but the peace of mind alone might pay for itself.


4. All Those Rentals

And we do mean “all”.  Everything from glassware to flatware (along with the actual tables and linens you’ll be placing them on) have to be rented.  There’s a wide range of styles to be plucked from, but on average you can expect to spend about $1000 on the full array.  

Adding it All Up/In Conclusion:


Adding all these elements together and averaging them out take you right back to where we began – set aside a solid $5000 to budget for a hundred-person reception.  Of course, expect the unexpected, and budget aside a little extra to deal with anything bound to come up and complicate matters.  When it comes to your wedding, more is more.  At least where preparation’s concerned.